“Start the week right”: which gadgets will help reduce ambient noise and “catch” concentration

    According to the research , the increased noise level negatively affects our health, the ability to absorb information and concentrate on the important tasks for us.

    Specialists from different countries are working to reduce the level of noise at home, in the office and in other environment with the help of new technologies and audio gadgets.

    In this article we decided to talk about this in more detail.

    Photo by William Brawley CC BY

    Headphones and earplugs

    The easiest and most popular way to reduce ambient noise is to use headphones. We use their help to listen to music and tune in to work. In each of these cases, both active and passive noise canceling headphones can help.

    The model and scheme of active noise cancellation was developed by Willard Meeker in 1957. It was used in overhead headphones and was able to suppress noise in the range from 50 to 500 Hz. Then, in the late 1980s, Bose released the world's first noise-canceling headset that was accessible to a wide range of users - the Bose Aviation Headset.

    The model with active noise cancellation is based on the principle of noise inverting. Inside the headphones are built one or two microphones. They catch the ambient noise, and the speaker emits a sound wave with the same amplitude, but already in antiphase. Due to this, noise suppression occurs.

    By the way, active noise cancellation technology is used not only in headphones, but also in ear plugs. Example - QuiteON projectlaunched by natives of Nokia. According to the developers, earplugs are activated automatically when you insert them into your ears, and hold the charge for about two days. The manufacturer positions QuiteON as an ideal gadget for isolating noise from traveling, sleeping, or at work (for example, for dentists and their patients).

    Noise-canceling headphones do a good job with monotonous low-frequency noise, which is why they work so well next to the buzzing engines of aircraft. With sounds that are sharp or those that change quickly, they work worse. In addition, discomfort when listening to can be a significant drawback: some buyers complain of a whistling sound or a change in air pressure in the ears. Therefore, before purchasing such headphones is definitely worth testing.

    With headphones with passive noise reduction, everything is easier. The principle of their work is similar to the usual plugs, which muffle all external sounds. The performance of the overhead headphones of this type depends on the pressing force, the material of the ear cushions and the design of the headphones cups.

    Helmets and Masks

    In addition to headphones, there are other effective ways to isolate yourself from noise and make it clear to others that you do not need to distract. Design Bureau Hochu rayu presented a device called Helmfon. The gadget looks like an oversized motorcycle helmet. The soundproofing of the helmet is provided by noise-canceling materials.

    Photo by Hochu rayu office (official press kit)

    Inside the device there is a place for storing a smartphone, speakers and a microphone are also included. According to the bureau, the goal of the project is to create a tool that will help to fully concentrate on the working project, preserve personal space and not allow office noise to kill a person’s productivity.

    Another interesting gadget that helps to distract from the ambient noise, developed by students of the Royal College of Art in London. The device is called Eidos Audio and is made in the form of a mask. Its task is to suppress ambient noise and enhance the sound of a particular conversation that a person wants to hear (the device uses the effect of bone conduction).

    According to its creators, Eidos, although it looks like an art object, can help people suffering from concentration problems in a noisy space.

    Failed projects

    Now there are many devices for noise reduction - not all of them pass the test of time. The most striking example of recent years has become a gadget called Muzo .

    The developers explained the concept of the device with the help of Anti-Vibration technology, and their promises of the achieved silence effect attracted the support of many users. Launched two years ago, the campaign of the gadget for IndieGoGo raised almost 1.9 million dollars, and another 500 thousand - on Kickstarter.

    Photo by Phil and Pam Gradwell CC BY

    However, in practice, it turned out that Muzo does not shield the owners from the noise, but on the contrary, can add it. There are many reviews of the gadget with negative ratings in the network , and in the comments on Kickstarter people demand to return the money.

    Another device for noise reduction in the apartment was the Sono project, proposed in 2013 . However, the idea did not go further. Confidence in current projects after the failure of Muzo and Sono has fallen, and new projects in this area are more difficult to start up.

    It just so happened that at the moment from the technical solutions better headphones and earplugs are not developed (if you do not take into account the sound insulation of the room ). However, the development of technology will sooner or later lead to a breakthrough in the market of noise-canceling devices, and we will get something more practical than promo roles and award-winning concepts.

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